Document Type



Master of Arts



First Adviser

Dawn Keetley


On October 31, 1990, the first episode of the children’s television series Are You Afraid of the Dark? aired on the Canadian station Youth Television (YTV). The series, which would be comprised of 91 episodes and 7 seasons, began with the phrase, “Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society. I call this story…” (MacHale). The opening campfire scenes and the stories that followed strike at the heart of nostalgia for many horror fans. The series has maintained a sizeable cult following that continues to enjoy the show’s tales of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Its influence and success precedes youth-oriented horror anthologies like Tales from the Crypt Keeper (1993), The Nightmare Room (2001), Goosebumps (1995), and R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour (2010). In this work, I begin a conversation regarding Are You Afraid? and the efficacy of young adult horror, in order to apply a critical lens to a series that targets a young, developing audience. Moreover, I argue the significance of spatial boundaries, the consequences of transgressing borders, and the importance of morally ambiguous messaging to a young audience. By addressing these elements, we can understand the didactic lessons of adolescent horror, address concerns regarding suitable content for developing viewers, and learn about young audience’s consumption of horrific material.